Weather woes for NJ this holiday week: Rain, snow, wind, cold
UPDATE... This article is outdated...
For the latest winter storm forecast information, please refer to my newest weather blog post.
The Bottom Line
This is a busy week. With Hanukkah officially on and Christmas coming up next weekend, New Jerseyans will be doing lots of traveling, shopping, hustling and bustling.
With high pressure in control of our atmosphere, the first half of the week will be quiet. (Although unseasonably cold.)
And then our next storm system rolls in Thursday into Friday. When we last spoke late last week, this one was looking interesting and potentially wintry. But model guidance is now strongly suggesting a big warmup, leading to a mainly rainy scenario. However, there are some big question marks: When will precipitation begin and end? Could there be some wintry mix at onset? What about a quick hit of snow on the backside?
Behind that storm system, temperatures are going to plummet into the Christmas weekend. And I mean cold. High temperatures for both Eve and Day may not even reach the freezing mark. With a gusty wind.
For the most part, this back-to-work and back-to-school Monday will be a continuation of this weekend's bright but chilly weather.
We are starting off with temperatures almost totally below freezing across New Jersey, mainly in the 20s. Despite lots of sunshine and dry weather, high temperatures will only reach the upper 30s Monday afternoon. That is about 5 to 10 degrees below normal for mid to late December.
The big nuisance of a day will be a strong westerly breeze, occasionally gusting over 20 mph. That will keep the chilly air moving around. And could keep the wind chill (the "feels like" or "apparent" temperature) in the 20s for some.
Monday night will be freezing cold too, with lows averaging upper 20s across the state. Any little breeze could bite — we could even see wind chills in the teens by Tuesday morning.
The wind should lighten up a bit. Otherwise, exactly the same as Monday. Mostly sunny, dry, and chilly. Highs will reach about 40 degrees.
Wednesday is the first day of winter, with the solstice falling at 4:47 p.m. EST.
While the day will start with sunshine, clouds should build ahead of our next storm system. But again, staying dry. And unseasonably cold, with highs again around the 40-degree mark.
Here we go again. Another powerful storm system. Another soaker. Although an inch or two of rain is certainly enough to cause some travel headaches. And there will be a couple limited opportunities for wintry weather thrown in too.
The biggest question mark regarding this system now is timing. Precipitation start time depends upon which forecast model you believe: the NAM is the fastest, with initial drops and flakes before daybreak Thursday; the European comes next, kicking off around midday Thursday; the GFS is the latest, keeping us dry through late afternoon Thursday.
The start time will be a big factor in whether we get an initial hit of wintry mix in northwestern New Jersey only. Even in the worst case scenario, icing does not look prolonged or serious.
Pockets of heavier rain will kick in Thursday night into Friday. Again, current guidance suggests total rainfall will end up around 1 to 2 inches for most of the state.
Again, there are some timing questions for Friday, as this storm system exits. Rain probably tapers off around midday. We will have to watch for a "grand finale" quick hit of snow as temperatures plummet. Although the ground will be warm and wet, and such overrunning cold events rarely lead to significant snow, we will have to watch the potential for visibility and traction concerns.
There is still some time for this storm system and this forecast to evolve and "wiggle" a bit. We will keep you posted, as always.
Weather in a word for Christmas weekend: Cold. With a capital "C". Maybe add "blustery" to that description too.
It's our first real "arctic blast" of the season, arriving just in time for Christmas. Temperatures are going to plummet late Friday, as arctic air pushes into New Jersey. And then we'll be stuck below freezing all weekend long. High temperatures for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will range from 25 to 30 degrees.
Saturday will be particularly windy too, with potential gusts in the 40 to 50 mph range. Sunday could still hit 30 mph, so still quite blustery.
Let me add some climatological context to these numbers. According to the latest forecast, this could be our coldest Christmas Eve since 1999 and the coldest Christmas Day since 2013.
But hey, at least it will be sunny and dry.
With cold, dry air in place, we will settle into another quiet pattern through the last week of the year. According to long-range models, our next opportunity for any kind of storm system would be around New Year's.
Dan Zarrow is Chief Meteorologist for Townsquare Media New Jersey. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter for the latest forecast and realtime weather updates.